Redistribution of K, Ca, Mg, Fe and Al governed by leaf litter movement in a temperate mixed hardwood forest soil

Oh, Sungjin, Gayoung Yoo, Ji Hyun Shim, Sinkyu Kang and Dowon Lee*

Department of Environmental Planning,

Graduate School of Environmental Studies

Seoul National University, Seoul

151-742, Korea

Phone number : +82-2-880-5650; Fax number : +82-2-873-5109

e-mail :

Extensive area of a Korean temperate mixed hardwood forest dominated by Quercus mongolica, Kalopanax pictus, Acer pseudo-sieboldianum, and Carpinus cordata consists of patches created by slope direction and understory types. One representative part of the forest floor is divided into three distinct patches. Two patches are located on a southwest-facing slope, with understory dominated by herbaceous plants (Patch S) and covered with evergreen dwarf bamboos, Sasa borealis (Patch SS), respectively. The other is on the opposite slope with understory dominated by various herbaceous plants (Patch N). The objective of this study was to examine relationship between leaf litter stores and metal redistribution in the patches. The amounts of leaf litter stores increased in the order of Patch S, SS, and N, suggesting that leaf litter moved from Patch S to Patch SS and N and that dwarf bamboo contributed to litter retention on the southwest-facing slope. Contents of K, Ca, Mg, Fe, and Al of leaf litter stores and A horizon soils taken from the patches were compared. Concentrations of Ca in both leaf litter and soil were higher in Patch N than in Patch S and SS, and ridge, while those of other metals showed the opposite tendency was in general lowest in the ridge soil. Only concentration of Ca in leaf litter also was higher than that of soils for all the patches, while those of the other metals were lower in leaf litter than in soil. The results indicate that Ca is intimately related to the processing of leaf litter, and that the other elements were not correlated to amount of leaf litter stored on the floor since those were likely to be leached from leaf litter. In conclusion, redistribution of leaf litter is largely governed by microclimate, topography and understory in a mixed Korean forest floor, and release of nutrients from the redistributed litter causes spatial heterogeneity of biogeochemical processes in the forest ecosystem.